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27.03.2015 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2017 Open Access

Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 2/2017

Assessing potential future urban heat island patterns following climate scenarios, socio-economic developments and spatial planning strategies

Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change > Ausgabe 2/2017
Eric Koomen, Vasco Diogo


Climate change and urban development will exacerbate current urban heat island effects. While most studies acknowledge the importance of projected temperature increases for raising urban temperatures, little attention is paid to the impacts of future changes in urbanisation patterns. Yet, steering urban development may be an effective strategy to further limit increases in the intensity and spreading of the urban heat island effect. We describe a method that allows exploring the impact of urban development scenarios on the urban heat island effect. This paper starts with a basic analysis of the strength of this effect in a temperate climate under relatively favourable conditions based on data from amateur weather stations and own observations. It explains local variation in observed temperatures and quantifies how the urban heat island effect may develop in the coming 30 years. Using the obtained relations, we assess potential future changes building on existing scenarios of climatic and socio-economic changes and a land use simulation model. Our measurements for the Amsterdam region in the Netherlands indicate that the urban heat island effect induces maximum temperature differences with the surrounding countryside of over 3 °C on moderately warm summer days. The simulations of potential future changes indicate that strong local temperature increases are likely due to urban development. Climate change will, on average, have a limited impact on these changes. Large impacts can, however, be expected from the combination of urban development and potentially more frequent occurrences of extreme climatic events such as heat waves. Spatial planning strategies that reduce the lateral spread of urban development will thus greatly help to limit a further increase in urban heat island values.
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